Protein Packed Hash Browns

I almost called this post “Holy Crap She Is Actually Posting a Recipe!” because it’s been so freakin’ long since I shared a food idea on my blog. Yes I am still cooking- although perhaps thawing and reheating would better describe my time in the kitchen of late. And I must give credit where credit is due and mention my sweet hubby who has also been doing a lot of the cooking (ahem…ordering in) as we’ve been adjusting to a busier schedule.

The inspiration for this recipe came from one of my favourite magazines Vegetarian Times. Anyone who has ever said that a plant-based diet is boring should pick up a copy of this mag and browse through the pages. Beautiful, delicious and creative dishes fill every issue and I always attempt to make at least one recipe from my monthly edition.

These hash browns are savoury and a bit spicy so feel free to omit the cayenne if you are making them for the kids. I served them with pancakes for a “breakfast for dinner” kind of night and they were a huge hit. You could also serve them alongside a big salad and a hunk of baguette for a hearty lunch or dinner. Oh and a tip from my family – a shot of ketchup takes these babies to the next level!

Protein Packed Hash Browns (adapted from Vegetarian Times, Sept 2013)

hash browns

1 package of extra-firm tofu (organic and non GMO), rinsed, patted dry and cubed
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 yellow pepper, chopped
5-6 yellow fleshed potatoes, cubed
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 pinch cayenne
Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat 1 tbsp. of the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the cubed tofu and sauté for 5 minutes, flipping a few times until the chunks are lightly browned. Remove from heat and place in a small bowl.

Add the other 1 tbsp. of oil to the same pan and sauté the garlic, onion, yellow pepper and potatoes for approximately 10 minutes or until potatoes are starting to brown. Toss in the tofu and add the spices. Saute for 7-8 minutes more or until the potatoes are tender and browned. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.


Barbecued Potato Salad

Potatoes are a fan favourite in my household. French fried, baked, hash browns, mashed…you name it the kids will gobble them up. And nothing says summer like a good potato salad so I decided to tinker with an old recipe to amp up the healthy ingredients while still putting the spotlight on the almighty spud.


I was planning to bake the potatoes in the oven but I couldn’t bear to heat up the house any more during this warm summer so I lined my cookie sheet with tin foil and popped those babies onto the BBQ to roast. And in the end I think this made the salad taste even better!

I used a combination of yellow and sweet potatoes but you could use just one variety if you want a more uniform taste. It was delicious when the potatoes were still warm right off the bbq but even better the next day after all of the ingredients had mixed together in the fridge overnight. I’m thinking this would also be a winner at a summer picnic or potluck. And feel free to add in any veggies and herbs you love to make this salad your own…..if you are like my toddler you might also want to throw on a little ketchup as an extra dressing and call it “French Fry Salad”. Hey – whatever works.

Barbecued Potato Salad

potato salad 2

5-6 yellow flesh potatoes, cubed
1 large sweet potato, cubed
1 can organic mixed beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cucumber, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 yellow pepper, diced
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp. parsley flakes
2 tsp sea salt (plus more for seasoning)
Fresh black pepper, to taste
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped


1/4 cup flax oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp sesame oil

Place potatoes, onion and garlic in a large bowl. Toss with oil, paprika, turmeric, parsley, sea salt and black pepper. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and either bake in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes or grill on the BBQ for 30-40 minutes over medium high heat.

potato salad 1

Put the cooked potatoes and veggies in a serving bowl and toss with mixed beans, cucumber, peppers and fresh cilantro.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and stir with a whisk. Pour over potatoes and veggies and toss to combine. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Raw Cauliflower “Rice” Salad

I learned in a Raw Cooking Class with Meghan Telpner that if you simply whir cauliflower in your food processor you end up with a grain-like consistency. It’s actually very cool and tastes remarkably like rice. And it has the added benefit of featuring a cruciferous veggie that is often overlooked but comes loaded with antioxidants, fiber and anti-inflammatory properties.

cauliflower rice

In a continued effort to not turn on my stove during our current heat wave, I thought this was the perfect time to experiment with more raw foods and thus this salad was conceived. My husband and I both enjoyed it but the kids only ate a small amount and found it a bit too tangy with all of the lemon juice. I might actually hold off with the lemon the next time I make it and let the kids control how much they put into their own servings.

The easiest way to prepare this rice is to use the “S” blade on your food processor or you can simply grate the cauliflower with a hand grater. If it is over processed it will become watery and mushy so be sure to pulse the florets slowly in your processor. Oh and word of warning – raw cauliflower may make you a bit gassy so don’t overindulge in your first sitting unless you are prepared to blow your family off the couch later in the evening if you know what I mean ; )

Raw Cauliflower “Rice” Salad


1 head of cauliflower
2 pints of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cucumber, diced
1 pepper (the colour of your choice), chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 handful fresh basil, chopped
12-15 black olives, pitted and chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Break cauliflower into pieces and pulse in a food processor using an “S” blade until you achieve a rice-like consistency. Work in batches so that you don’t overload the processor and end up with big chunks- you want it all to be even and fine. Place the finished “rice” into a large bowl.

Stir in cucumber, tomatoes, pepper, olives, cilantro and basil. Add oil, lemon and salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine. Serve cold.


Black & White Rice Pilaf

I like to bring a good plant-based dish or two when I go to a friend’s house for a dinner to guarantee that there will be something for me to eat. I never want my host or hostess to feel like I am a pain in the butt or high maintenance so I always pop a veggie appetizer and/or main course quietly on the table and then I can relax and enjoy a glass of wine and the good company.

This salad is light, refreshing and darn tasty (if I do say so myself) and tastes best at room temperature so it is perfect to tote along to a dinner party, picnic or potluck. I also like to make this dish for lunch or a light dinner at home although I have got some push back from my kids in the past because of the “black” rice. However, once they tasted it they had to admit that aside from the colour, it actually tastes pretty much the same as the white rice that they already enjoy.
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Warm Quinoa Salad with Fresh Basil & Toasted Almonds- Plus 4 Shout Outs

When our family switched to a more plant-based diet I had to rethink mealtime. When I could no longer plan my dinners around a centerpiece of meat, I had to get creative and learn about other satisfying options and healthy sources of protein. Trust me this took some adjusting, many spectacular flops and more than a few bags of Yves “Veggie” Nuggets before I had a repertoire of family friendly selections.

Once the warmer weather hits, I like to have the ingredients on hand to whip up salads for dinner that are light and refreshing but also pack a punch nutritionally for my active family. This quinoa dish is yummy and loaded with healthy protein, fresh veggies, herbs and nuts and is perfect for a pre-soccer game meal. I served this alongside a crisp green salad and a sliced baguette and everyone seemed to enjoy it (including the toddler who I passed the quinoa off on as rice).

Try this one out on your family- even as a side dish to see how it goes over. I find by serving up different foods and making sure to appreciate my children for their openness to trying new things (before they’ve even put a taste in their mouths) seems to make them feel proud of themselves and increases the likelihood that they will at least eat of bite or two of my latest creation. But you may want to keep a bag of veggie nuggets in the freezer just in case!

Warm Quinoa Salad with Fresh Basil & Toasted Almonds

quinoa salad 1

3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
2 large tomatoes, finely diced
3 mini cucumbers, finely diced
1 handful of fresh basil, chopped
1 cup raw almonds
1-2 tbsp. tamari
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Place almonds on cookie sheet and toast for 7-10 minutes, shaking a couple of times to prevent burning. Cool and then slice or chop using a sharp knife.

Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to boil. Rinse quinoa 2-3 times under cold running water and then add to the water. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 12-15 minutes until water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place tomatoes, cucumbers and basil in a large bowl. Add quinoa and nuts and toss to combine. Toss with tamari, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.

*BONUS– 4 Shout Outs

Don’t you just love good customer service?! I’ve had a few amazing experiences lately that I wanted to share:

1. My youngest somehow managed to crack my iPhone OtterBox. When I went to a local electronics store to buy a new one, the salesman informed me that these cases have a lifetime warranty and that if I contacted the company they would send me a new one for free. I wasn’t 100% convinced this would actually happen but sure enough after forwarding a picture of my broken case along with the serial number, I received a brand-spanking new Otterbox in the mail within 3 days. Awesome!

otter box

2. On my recent trip to NYC, I bought a fabulous new yoga top at lulu lemon that I was dying to wear to class. But when I went to put it on I realized that I had purchased the wrong size. Damn! I’d already thrown out the receipt but I thought I’d bring it back to a local lulu lemon to check about the possibility of trading it in. They were only too happy to accommodate and quickly did a return for my NY shirt and made sure I left with the right size. Woohoo!

lulu lemon

3. I was driving through a local Starbucks this week and noticed a new offering- “Zesty Black Bean and Quinoa Wrap”. At least in my area, this is the first vegan option on their food menu and I think that is totally amazing. Way to go Starbucks! Now if I could just get them using almond milk in their green tea lattes……

startbucks wrap

4. Our iPad takes a lot of abuse and inevitably the sticky fingers, being toted all over the place and the relentless hammering on the screen during game play results in problems with how the poor thing runs. Recently we couldn’t get it to work at all so I headed off to our local Apple store to see if it could be resuscitated. When I walked in (accompanied by my little guy in the stroller) I was disheartened to see that the store was absolutely packed with customers. Of course my son picked that instant to start freaking out and I felt the uncontrollable urge to burst into tears. However, within seconds a lovely customer service associate approached and asked if he could help me out. He said he was a dad himself and he saw the “I-might-lose-it-at-any-moment” look in my eyes. In less than 5 minutes he had our iPad cleaned up and running perfectly – and he didn’t charge me a cent! Incredible!

apple store

In each case, I went straight home and fired off an email to the respective head offices complimenting the company on exemplary customer service. As quick as most of us are to complain about mistreatment and minor injustices, I think it’s equally important to recognize when people go above and beyond to treat their customers with kindness, compassion and generosity. Thanks so much to OtterBox, lulu lemon, Starbucks and Apple.

Have you experienced good customer service lately? Share your story in the comments!

Green Smoothie 2.0

Thank you so much to my friend Alison who loaned me her copy of Kimberly Snyder’s book “The Beauty Detox Foods“. I read it cover to cover in one day and I learned so much wonderful new information from this amazingly knowledgeable woman. Kimberly is a Clinical Nutritionist, chef to countless Hollywood stars, an author, a respected media expert and a stunningly beautiful woman (in only a slightly annoying way ; )

In the book, she shares her own struggles with weight and diet issues, recurring skin problems and health concerns prior to uncovering a healthier way of life- which came about as a result of her global travels spanning over 50 countries in 3 years. What she discovered was that by really immersing herself in the native foods and practices of places like Japan, Nepal, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Mongolia, ” my hair became shiny and thick, my skin became radiant and in all the years since then, I’ve never once had to back to dieting. Not once.” This led to her pursuing a career as a nutritionist, a devoted following of A-list celebrities and 2 best-selling books.

kimberly snyder 1

I highly recommend this book if you are interested in learning about how certain foods contribute to your overall health, well-being and beauty. It is also an interesting guide on how our digestive system works and how vital this process is in maintaining vibrant health and a radiant outer glow. For instance, did you know that you shouldn’t drink water with meals? I didn’t! According to Kimberly “drink water at least half an hour before your meals or an hour following meals. During mealtimes, drink as little as possible. Too much liquid with meals dilutes your digestive juices and can slow digestion considerably.”

The basic principles of the Beauty Detox can be summed up by 3 guidelines:

1. Eat more veggies and fewer animal products.

2. Drink the Glowing Green Smoothie (or juice) every day.

3. Give up dairy.

Source: The Beauty Detox Foods

That may sound challenging (or downright freaky if you are a cheese lover) but Kimberly offers up a wealth of information, suggestions and recipes in the book that make her program seem totally achievable. I had so many “aha” moments while reading this book and I scribbled so many notes in my journal that I decided to go ahead and buy my own copy so that I could reread it, make the recipes and mark it up the pages without worrying about ruining my friend’s book. I also ordered her other book “The Beauty Detox Solution” and I’ve subscribed to her online newsletter to get all of her latest tips and tricks.

The one must-do requirement for her beauty detox is to drink her Glowing Green Smoothie every day. I have been making it all week and I have to say that it is very filling and quite tasty. I also realized that I can pack WAY more greens into my smoothie than I’ve done in the past and still make it drinkable (mind you – the kids really don’t like the cilantro so I had to drink that batch all on my own.) I also like her method for making this smoothie in stages to blend down the greens first and make more room for additional ingredients. Give her recipe a try and see if it takes your energy level, your health and your beauty to the next level!

Glowing Green Smoothiecourtesy of The Beauty Detox Foods- Kimberly Snyder
Yield: about 60 ounces

ggs 1

2 cups water
7 cups chopped spinach
6 cups romaine lettuce (about 1 small head)
2 stalks celery
1 apple, cored
1 pear, cored
1 banana
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
1/2 cup chopped parsley (optional)
ice cubes (optional – I have been adding some frozen fruit instead to make the smoothie nice and cold)

Add water, spinach and romaine to the blender. Mix until smooth. Next add the herbs (if using), celery, apple and pear. Blend again. Add the banana and lemon juice and blend. Finish with the ice (or frozen fruit) and blend until very smooth.

ggs 2

*Note from Kimberly: I encourage you to mix and match your greens and fruit. Vary this recipe with kale, chard, arugula, etc. Just avoid melons, as they are a specific type of fruit that digests better on their own.

Glorious Green Dressing

My husband is a sauce man. He likes his pasta to be swimming in tomato sauce, his sandwiches spilling over with mustard and Italian dressing and his burritos loaded with salsa, guacamole and Tabasco. So I am always on the lookout for a great homemade sauce recipe to douse my less popular meals in the hopes of changing his mind about their yumminess.

Enter my Glorious Green Dressing. I based this on a Tahini Sauce recipe from Ruth Tal’s Refresh cookbook and not only is it delicious – it is packed with healthy fats, calcium and detoxifying greens. And it immediately amps up the taste on things like stirfrys, spinach salads and quinoa with grilled veggies. It even works well on sandwiches, wraps and pitas.

tahini 3

This dressing gets its brilliant green colouring from parsley, cilantro and avocado and it instantly transforms any dish into a verdant visual feast for the eyes and delicious treat for the taste buds. I simply added a few scoops to my latest stir fry and I could tell from the way my husband gobbled it down that I had stumbled upon something good.

I used my Vitamix to whip this up but any blender should be able to combine the ingredients enough to turn it into sauce. If you are planning to prepare it in advance, just pop it in the fridge and add a tbsp. or so of water and shake prior to serving. I like to keep some on hand in a mason jar to plop over rice or to use as a raw veggie dip. Now if I could just get this to work with the kids and brussel sprouts….I’m thinking I might have more luck with chocolate sauce in that case ; )

Glorious Green Dressing

green dressing 1

Juice of one lemon
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 avocado, peeled and pitted
1/2 cup Tahini (sesame butter)
1 cup water (or more depending on desired thickness)
1-2 tsp sea salt (adjust according to taste)
Dash cayenne pepper

Whiz all ingredient in a high-powered blender until smooth.

green dressing 2